Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Fountain (2006)

(FYI the film isn't japanese, I just like this poster best)

A love story that spans a thousand years, multiple people and different solar systems.

Three different incarnations of Tommy and Izzie are at the centre of The Fountain, all of them dealing with death and the biblical Tree of Life. The main story revolves around a modern day medical research doctor desperately trying to discover a cure for his terminally ill wife, who is much more accepting of her fate. On either side of this story are fantastical and ethereal takes on the same idea. On the earlier side is Spanish Conquistador Tomas, who hacks through the Mayan jungle on a mission from his Queen Isabella and on the later side is futuristic space traveller Tom flying through the heavens on a mission to find the underworld, and ultimately his departed wife, itself.

As a Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream) film, there's obviously a lot going on under the surface. What that is exactly, though isn't as clear. Where some of his later films like Black Swan are very tight and focussed, The Fountain is a bit scatter-shot and has lots of things going on at once. The range of different imagery going on is a bit jarring. There imagery influences include, but definitely aren't limited to: Old testament Christian creation stories, Mayan mythology, psychedelic astronomical stuff, Buddhist practices and legend, and mathematical metaphors. It would have benefited greatly, in my opinion, if it embraced just the Mayan and Christian elements, but that's probably just a matter of taste.

Behind the superficial guff, The Fountain is a tragic love story at its heart. The multiple Toms are so madly in love with their Izzies and so obsessed with saving them that they're blinded from the reality they're presented with. If you can move past a lot of the excess, you can enjoy The Fountain as a story of misplaced determination and how we all react to the idea of death, compared to how (Aronofsky thinks) we should.

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